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What happened to Brazil's 2000 Powerhouse?

It is almost 20 years since a young South African side caused one of the biggest upsets in Olympics football history by beating a powerful Brazil team containing the soon-to-be-superstar, Ronaldinho.

Dubbed 'AmaGlug-glug' thanks to their association with petroleum giant SASOL, the South Africans had already defied the odds to qualify for the global showpiece in Sydney, though the football tournament itself was played across Australia.

Captained by lanky defender Matthew Booth, the team had been under no illusions as to the enormity of the challenge they would face Down Under, where Brazil, Slovakia and Japan lay in wait in Group D.

Reality hit home in the first game with a 2-1 defeat to Japan, despite having taken the lead through Siyabonga Nomvethe. Another 2-1 loss in the final game, against Slovakia in Canberra, meant an early trip home, but not before they had won the hearts of a nation with a 3-1 victory against Brazil.

To illustrate the magnitude of that achievement, we take a look at the 11 Selecao players that took to the field at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, and how their careers ultimately panned out.

Helton (Vasco da Gama)

The goalkeeper, whose fumble allowed Steve Lekoelea to tuck away the third goal, left Vasco da Gama for Portugal two years after the Olympics. After three seasons with Uniao Leiria he moved to FC Porto, where he would spend the next 10 years lifting numerous trophies, including seven Primeira Liga titles and the 2011 UEFA Cup. But despite all his success at club level, Helton could never establish himself in the senior Brazil team, winning just three caps as he played second fiddle to the likes of Julio Cesar and Dida.

Baiano (Santos)

The right-back endured a gruelling 80 minutes against South Africa before being replaced by Roger. Baiano spent most of his career in his homeland playing for the likes of Santos and Palmeiras, and also had unsuccessful stints abroad with Las Palmas, Rubin Kazan and Boca Juniors. He ended up with 16 Under-23 caps, but never broke into the senior team.

Fabio Bilica (Venezia, Italy)

One of just three overseas-based players at the time of the Olympics, Bilica did something of a ‘tour of Europe’ during his career. After four years at Venezia, he also spent time in Germany (FC Koln), France (Istres), Romania (Cluj) and Turkey (Sivasspor, Fenerbahce and Elazigspor). ‘Fener’ proved the highlight, winning the Super Lig, Turkish Cup and Turkish Super Cup, but Bilica never tasted senior team action for his country.

Alvaro (Sao Paulo)

The centre-back spent eight years in Spain playing for Las Palmas, Real Zaragoza and Levante, with the highlight undoubtedly coming in their 2004 Copa del Rey final defeat of Real Madrid. Alvaro spent the last eight years of his career back in his homeland with the likes of Internacional and Flamengo.

Marcos Paulo (Cruzeiro)

Marcos Paulo’s career was one that promised much, but never really delivered. Brief spells at Udinese, Sporting Lisbon and Maccabi Haifa never amounted to much, leaving the defensive midfielder to finish his career back in his homeland, bar a two-season sojourn in Japan. However, he did manage three senior international appearances along the way.

Fabio Aurelio

Fabio Aurelio (Sao Paulo)

Despite Brazil’s early exit from the Olympics, Aurelio did enough to impress Spanish giants Valencia, who signed him on a six-year deal in 2000. Under the guidance of Rafael Benitez he helped the club to their first La Liga title in three decades; a feat which they repeated two seasons later as well. He reunited with Benitez at Liverpool in 2006 and, despite battling with injuries, became a firm favourite at Anfield before leaving for Germio in 2012. Aurelio never played a single game for the Brazil senior team though, in fairness, his career coincided with that of first Roberto Carlos, then Marcelo.

Ronaldinho (Gremio)

The undoubted superstar of the team, Ronaldinho is considered one of the greatest players of his generation; some argue even of all time. Ridiculously skilful and always playing with a smile on his face, he joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2001, but truly became a household name at the 2002 World Cup after beating David Seaman with a 40-yard freekick. Unprecedented success followed during a five-year spell at Barcelona, including two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and being given a standing ovation by Real Madrid’s own fans at the Bernabeu, before a three-season stint at AC Milan rounded off his European sojourn. Ronaldinho won 97 caps for Selecao, which included victories in the 2002 World Cup and 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup finals. He also eventually got an Olympic medal - a bronze at the 2008 Games.

Fabiano (Sao Paulo)

Fabiano’s career never really took flight after the Olympics, despite having firmly established himself with Sao Paulo before that. He spent one season in Spain with Albacete inbetween working his way around various clubs in Brazil and Mexico.

Edu (Sao Paulo)

Before becoming something of a cult hero at Real Betis, Edu was the man who equalised for Brazil just a minute after Quinton Fortune had given AmaGlug-glug the lead in Sydney. He experienced something of a rollercoaster ride in Andalusia, helping the club qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time and winning the Copa del Rey in 2004/05. He also fought two successful relegation battles, scoring twice on the final day in 2007 against Racing Santander to keep his side up, and again netting twice in 2008 as Betis came back from 2-0 to beat Barcelona 3-2. His one and only senior international appearance came in 2000, against Thailand.

Alex (Parma, Italy)

Alex won his big move to Parma on the back of some incredible performances for Palmeiras, who he helped win the Copa Libertadores title in 1999. Serie A never quite worked out, but a return to Brazil in 2002 proved the tonic as he captained Cruzeiro to the ‘triple crown’ of State Championship, the Brasileirão and the Brazilian Cup. His form resulted in a second shot at European glory, this time with Turkish giants Fenerabahce, where he played more than 250 games in 12 years and won three Super Lig titles. He also tasted success with Selecao, playing 48 games and winning two Copa America titles.

Geovanni (Cruzeiro)

Such was Geovanni’s promise as a youngster that Barcelona paid $18-million for his services in 2001, beating the likes of Arsenal and Juventus to his signature. But after falling out with coach Carles Rexach he left for Benfica, where he was twice named Player of the Year. Family troubles forced him to return to Brazil, but he was soon back in Europe with Manchester City, netting the only goal in a Derby win against United. He joined Hull City in 2008 and became an instant cult hero with a succession of long-range stunners, including the club’s first ever Premier League goal. Geovanni played only one game for Selecao ... a 1-0 Copa America defeat in 2001.


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